I fell in love with the bestselling novel, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and have been anxiously awaiting the next book in the All Souls Trilogy ever since. So, obviously, I pounced when I saw an advance readers copy (ARC) of Shadow of Night. Woot, it’s here!
If you don’t know anything about this series, I encourage you to read my review of A Discovery of Witches, Book #1 in the All Souls Trilogy; however, I’ll tell you now that it’s one of the smartest and best researched paranormal series I’ve ever read. I also had the pleasure of sitting in on an author session with Deborah Harkness at the 2012 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I’ve included a link to my A Discovery of Witches review and that author session at the end of this review for those of you who are interested.
And now for the best news of all – After I posted this week’s upcoming reviews on the home page, I got an email notice that I’ve won a giveaway for a hard copy of Shadow of Night. I’m going to pay it forward by giving the copy I won to a lucky reader! Let the cheering begin!
Warning: Spoilers for Book #1 are inevitable with this review of Shadow of Night since it begins where A Discovery of Witches ends. Although it can be read as a stand-alone novel, your experience will be greatly enhanced by reading Book #1 first.
When we left Diana Bishop, a witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire, they were on the run because they had stirred up a hornet’s nest in the paranormal community. At the heart of their troubles was the mysterious Ashmole 782 as well as their forbidden love for each other. Following a hasty marriage, they decided they had no choice but to travel back in time to find an intact version of Ashmole 782 and to get Diana the training she needs for her unique witchy problems. And that is where our story begins.
“After journeying so far into Matthew’s past, my body felt as though it might come apart with a puff of wind. I hadn’t felt anything like it after our brief timewalking sessions at my aunts’ house.”
“’…I didn’t mess it up or take us somewhere else, like Monticello or – ‘
‘No,’ he said, with an answering smile, ‘you did beautifully. Welcome to Elizabethan England.’”
The year is 1590. Diana and Matthew have arrived as planned and, even though Diana is an Oxford trained historian of note, she is out of her league. As hard as she tries to use everything she knows about the period to blend in, she smells different, looks different, sounds different, and behaves differently. In other words she sticks out like a sore thumb even to mortals, and she’s an instant giveaway as a time traveler to any paranormal who senses her. She and Matthew both know they are going to be in deep trouble if she can’t learn what she needs to blend better. Until then, she’s basically a prisoner in their home and there’s no way she’ll get trained or find Ashmole 782 if she can’t leave the house.
Not only that but, despite Matthew’s research and assurances, witch hunts are taking place with a vengeance in nearby King James’ Scotland and witches in London are terrified they’ll be next. Since Matthew was known of being virulently anti-witch in Elizabethan England, let’s just say the area witches who might be able to help Diana aren’t beating down any doors to disclose themselves to her or Matthew.
“’We need to devise a story to explain how your wife came to be here,’ Walter said thoughtfully, ‘something to divert attention from her strangeness.’
‘Diana needs a teacher, too,’ added Matthew.
‘She must be taught some manners, certainly, ‘ Kit grumbled.
‘No, her teacher must be another witch,’ Matthew corrected him.
Walter made a low sound of amusement. ‘I doubt there’s a witch within twenty miles of Woodstock. Not with you living here.’”
Meeting Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, Walter Raleigh, George Chapman, Henry Percy, and all of the other people who Diana has only researched historically is a mixed blessing. Although she’s at first blinded by the historical contribution she knows they all make, she quickly learns they’re just a rowdy bunch of guys with a lot of deep, dark secrets – a group known as The School of Night. It doesn’t help that Kit, a daemon, is so hopelessly infatuated with Matthew, and so horribly jealous of Diana, that he’s willing to put them all in almost continual mortal danger just to get rid of her.
“The three men looked like an unkindness of ravens with their dark clothes and attentive expressions. It reminded me of what Shakespeare would soon say about this extraordinary group.
‘How does it begin?’ I murmured softly. ‘Black is the badge of hell?’
Matthew looked wistful. ‘Black is the badge of hell/The hue of dungeons, and the school of night.’…
‘Is there anything they wouldn’t do for you, Matthew?’
‘Pray God we never find out,’ he said somberly.”
Diana also learns dark secrets Matthew has been keeping that will test their marriage over and over again. This trip back in time is definitely not working out the way Diana or Matthew envisioned – nope, not at all.
Can Diana find a witch willing to train her? Can she learn how to get past her blocks and use her powers? Will she discover why she can’t perform even simple spells yet her powers sometimes run wild? Can she evade witch hunters long enough to learn what she needs to survive and control her powers?
Where is Ashmole 782? Who has it and can they even get near it? Will it contain the answers they’re seeking about how/why paranormal were created? Will they learn why unscrupulous witches, vampires, and daemons are trying to get it at any cost? I’m not telling…
Shadow of Night demonstrates all over again that Deborah Harkness is a master storyteller! Her research is flawless and her characterizations are so lifelike that I completely forgot they were characters at all. Even if I were not a paranormal fiction fan, I would have loved this novel for its historical content. It breathes life into the Elizabethan period and its well-known personages! Am I gushing? Yes, I am because it is just that good.
I probably don’t have to tell A Discovery of Witches fans that I was immediately swept up into Shadow of Night and could not put it down at night until I literally had double vision. It may sound nuts but I’m delighted to say I got absolutely nothing else done while I was reading it and I didn’t want it to end. Now I’m counting the days until Book #3 is published. Write fast Deborah Harkness because I can hardly wait to see what happens next!
Do I highly recommend it? Do you even have to ask? Of course I do, silly reader. And one of you is going to win a copy!
Can’t wait to read it?
Shadow of Night was published on July 10, 2012, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
I’d love to get your comments on Shadow of Night, Deborah Harkness or her other work, and/or this review.
To read our review of A Discovery of Witches, click here.
To read our article on the 2012 LA Times Festival of Books Bump in the Night author session, featuring Deborah Harkness, click here.
If you like this review, please “like” it, +1 it, and share it with your friends!
One lucky reader will win a copy of Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness.
(Please note: This copy will be shipped when I receive it from the giveaway I won.)
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 8/4/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 15 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
5) If you already follow PopcornReads on Twitter or Facebook, you must still complete that part of the Rafflecopter form for your follow to count as an entry.
6) If you do not provide a complete mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. We will use your mailing address to ship your book to you.
7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
Please note: Since Twitter changed, more people have had problems with the Rafflecopter Tweet option. To Tweet, just click the Tweet button. When the pop-up window opens, click Tweet again. After you have tweeted, go to Twitter and click on Tweets in the upper left box under your Twitter ID. Find the Tweet. Click Open. Then click Details to pop up the Tweet. Then copy the URL and paste it into the blank on the Rafflecopter form.
If you’ve never used Rafflecopter before to enter a giveaway, here’s a little 45 sec. video on how to do it: